On our last night of a memorable family vacation in Florida, my older son devoured a meal that wasn't smothered in chocolate or shaped like a breaded chicken paddle. I swear I almost shed tears.
Our Florida vacation will be remembered for many things. Our boys got to meet their great uncle Ronnie, who lives in Indonesia and was staying with my husband's grandfather, Stormin' Norman, in the few months before he died. I got to meet up with an old friend in Miami who I haven't seen in years. The boys actually had fun together. (Don't deny it, Maxon. I saw it with my own eyes.) I enjoyed watching Ezra make a new friend every day, play sports and have swimming races with children foreign and domestic; and watching Maxon read under a towel with his big mirrored sunglasses or bob peacefully in the water.
But one particularly noteworthy event happened on our last night in Ft. Lauderdale. We were at a restaurant called Greek Islands, one of Stormin' Norman's favorites. In honor of him, we ordered lamb chops.
I have written here about Maxon's struggles as a picky eater and my frustration with making delicious food my children don't eat. I loved lamb chops as a young girl, and I held out some small hope that Maxon might also.
The food arrived, smelling delicious. Maxon looked at the plate with the same suspicious eyes he uses to survey all food that most people relish. Then, he took a bite.
And another. And another.
I am not talking his usual bird bites, followed by 20 minutes of nonsequitors used to distract us from the fact that he isn't eating. He ate those chops with his entire face. He didn't speak between bites. Inside his body, I imagined his starving cells welcoming this new, delicious protein and rejoicing, Mardi Gras style, through his bloodstream.
He enjoyed those chops. And they were spectacularly seasoned with herbs I was afraid to speak aloud. Because I have never seen him love food that wasn't smothered in chocolate or shaped like a breaded chicken paddle. I swear I almost shed tears. It awoke the Jewish mother inside me, the one who just wants to watch you eat, bubeleh.
"Wow. My mouth hurts," he said, when he finished. "Did I eat too sloppy?"
"I don't care, love. You enjoyed your food and that's what's important."
"Thanks, mom. Those were great."
Under the table, I Googled lamb chop recipes. I know what I am making for Shabbat dinner this Friday.